SDC-51306 Fieldwork in Conflict and Post-conflict Settings


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper1
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. LA de Vries
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. LA de Vries
dr. PA Tamas
Examiner(s)dr. ir. LA de Vries
dr. PA Tamas

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

SDC-34806 Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction; SDC-21306 Methods, Techniques and Data Analysis for Field Research or equivalent, ENT-50303 Analysis and Prevention of Health Risks in the Tropics.

Continuation courses:

SDC-34306 Conflict, Development and Disaster.


Fieldwork in societies characterized by violence or conflict involves a number of methodological challenges of a practical and more philosophical nature. This course helps students prepare for these challenges by developing a responsible attitude towards the research project from its design through to the writing process. Processes of post-conflict reconstruction or transition are often marked by various forms of violence, contested authority, intense but often non-linear institutional, social and economic change, and a high density of external interventions that reverberate on the lives of people.
Students learn that field research involves juggling considerations of access, safety, analysis, and framing. The course prepares students to reflect on the conditions of collecting data and the subsequent construction of knowledge on and within contexts characterized by violence, crisis or conflict. Students are invited to apply constructivist perspectives on -predominantly qualitative- research methods and are expected to reflect on the implications of those methods for approaching violent and conflict-affected dynamics.
Key topics covered are:
- gaining access to and building trust in violent and conflict-affected settings;
- safety and security for the researcher and the research partners;
- research ethics;
- researching narratives and sense making in violent and conflict-affected settings;
- knowledge construction on and within violence and conflict.
The course is designed for masters level students who intend to do research in settings characterized by violence, crisis, and (post-)conflict transitions. It is recommended for MID-students, especially those specializing in Disaster Studies. The course is also open students from programs (e.g. MDR and MLE) and to PhD students.

Learning outcomes:

Upon successful completion of the course, the students will be able to:
- assess the often inherent contradictions between access, partiality, safety and trust in highly polarised environments;
- design iterative strategies to identify and resolve ethical and security-related challenges regarding their own and others' positions when undertaking the field research;
- reflect on the limitations of their own and others' knowledge claims;
- appraise the varied interests of different stakeholders in research design, execution and reporting stages.


The course offers a combination of lectures, case-based discussion and discussion of literature.
The sessions have an interactive set-up. A number of guest lecturers present on their research experiences in conflictive or violent settings. The course includes an assignment in which a master's level thesis in the domain of conflict studies is critically assessed regarding methodology and knowledge construction.


The course is examined through a written exam (50%) and an assignment (50%). A sufficient mark is needed for both to pass the course.


Course literature consists of selected articles and book chapters and is provided prior to the course on Blackboard.